Thursday, February 19, 2009

NYU Students Occupy Building

Students at New York University have taken over a building. Show your support!


We, the students of NYU, declare an occupation of this space. This occupation is the culmination of a two-year campaign by the Take Back NYU! coalition, and of campaigns from years past, in whose footsteps we follow.

In order to create a more accountable, democratic and socially responsible university, we demand the following:

  1. Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation.
  2. Full compensation for all employees whose jobs were disrupted during the course of the occupation.
  3. Public release of NYU’s annual operating budget, including a full list of university expenditures, salaries for all employees compensated on a semester or annual basis, funds allocated for staff wages, contracts to non-university organizations for university construction and services, financial aid data for each college, and money allocated to each college, department, and administrative unit of the university. Furthermore, this should include a full disclosure of the amount and sources of the university’s funding.
  4. Disclosure of NYU’s endowment holdings, investment strategy, projected endowment growth, and persons, corporations and firms involved in the investment of the university’s endowment funds. Additionally, we demand an endowment oversight body of students, faculty and staff who exercise shareholder proxy voting power for the university’s investments.
  5. That the NYU Administration agrees to resume negotiations with GSOC/UAW Local 2110 – the union for NYU graduate assistants, teaching assistants, and research assistants. That NYU publicly affirm its commitment to respect all its workers, including student employees, by recognizing their right to form unions and to bargain collectively. That NYU publicly affirm that it will recognize workers’ unions through majority card verification.
  6. That NYU signs a contract guaranteeing fair labor practices for all NYU employees at home and abroad. This contract will extend to subcontracted workers, including bus drivers, food service employees and anyone involved in the construction, operation and maintenance at any of NYU’s non-U.S. sites.
  7. The establishment of a student elected Socially Responsible Finance Committee. This Committee will have full power to vote on proxies, draft shareholder resolutions, screen all university investments, establish new programs that encourage social and environmental responsibility and override all financial decisions the committee deems socially irresponsible, including investment decisions. The committee will be composed of two subcommittees: one to assess the operating budget and one to assess the endowment holdings. Each committee will be composed of ten students democratically elected from the graduate and under-graduate student bodies. All committee decisions will be made a strict majority vote, and will be upheld by the university. All members of the Socially Responsible Finance Committee will sit on the board of trustees, and will have equal voting rights. All Socially Responsible Finance Committee and Trustee meetings shall be open to the public, and their minutes made accessible electronically through NYU’s website. Elections will be held the second Tuesday of every March beginning March 10th2009, and meetings will be held biweekly beginning the week of March 30th 2009.
  8. That the first two orders of business of the Socially Responsible Finance committee will be:
    a) An in depth investigation of all investments in war and genocide profiteers, as well as companies profiting from the occupation of Palestinian territories.
    b) A reassessment of the recently lifted of the ban on Coca Cola products.
  9. That annual scholarships be provided for thirteen Palestinian students, starting with the 2009/2010 academic year. These scholarships will include funding for books, housing, meals and travel expenses.
  10. That the university donate all excess supplies and materials in an effort to rebuild the University of Gaza.
  11. Tuition stabilization for all students, beginning with the class of 2012. All students will pay their initial tuition rate throughout the course of their education at New York University.  Tuition rates for each successive year will not exceed the rate of inflation, nor shall they exceed one percent. The university shall meet 100% of government-calculated student financial need.
  12. That student groups have priority when reserving space in the buildings owned or leased by New York University, including, and especially, the Kimmel Center.
  13. That the general public have access to Bobst Library.


We, the students of Take Back NYU! declare our solidarity with the student occupations in Greece, Italy, and the United Kingdom, as well as those of the University of Rochester, the New School for Social Research, and with future occupations to come in the name of democracy and student power. We stand in solidarity with the University of Gaza, and with the people of Palestine.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Boycott NY Post until Sean Delonas is Fired

The Huffington Post recently drew attention to this shocking cartoon published in the NY Post today. The cartoon, although reputedly playing off a chimp rampage in Connecticut, the deeper meaning is clear. Obama, as a black man, is the chimp who wrote the stimulus bill, and in the cartoon, has apparently been mistakenly shot by two police officers. What point could be conveyed, other than drawing together several of the most offensive racist tropes, is unclear. Such blatant racism is surprising, even from a publication as opportunistic as the Post. 

It is worth listing the racist tropes which this cartoon invokes. 
1. Black people are less than human, they are apes. 
2. Police shoot black people mistakenly, like animals, or chimps (but as a conservative paper, this is portrayed as hardly prolematic). 
3. Obama, as the author of the stimulus package, is incompentent and stupid because he is black/a monkey
4. Suggestive of the assassination of the US's first black president, a goal openly advocated by white supremcist groups. 

Gawker has compiled the cartoons of Sean Delonas, and it is very clear that this scum-bag artist loves to appeal to the very lowest forms of humour. If anyone doubted that this cartoon was blatantly racist, only check out some of Delonas's other fine offerings. 

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Faculty Charged Bollinger with Inconsistency on Israel and Palestine

The Columbia faculty have taken a decisive step in criticizing Bollinger, who led the outcry against a British boycott of Israeli universities, but how has remained starkly silent on how the massacre in Gaza violated every value of academic freedom.

Columbia students and alumni should sign the petition here.

The Letter to Bollinger:

Letter on Academic Freedom in Palestine

Dear President Bollinger,

On a number of occasions since becoming president of Columbia University you have expressed your views in public on questions of academic freedom in the Middle East. Yet you have remained silent on the actions by Israel that deny that freedom to Palestinians.

These actions include Israel's continuing blockade of Gaza, the imposing of barriers, checkpoints, and closures around and within the West Bank that make academic life unworkable, the denial of exit visas to Palestinian scholars offered fellowships abroad or invited to international conferences, including scholars invited to Columbia, and the recent three-week war against Gaza that included not only the bombing of Palestinian schools and colleges, with great loss of life, but the widespread destruction of the material and social fabric on which academic life depends.

We, as Columbia and Barnard faculty, ask you now to make public your opposition to these actions and your support for the academic freedom of Palestinians.

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Chavez Wins Referendum to End Term Limits

In a vote closely watched around Latin America and in the United States, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has won a decisive victory in a referendum repealing term limits that would have ended Chavez's presidency in 2013, as the New York Times reports here.

The Party for Socialism and Liberation, ardent supporters of Chavez, will be discussing it at their open New York City meeting this Friday.

This Friday, February 20, 7pm
2295 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. on 135th street
2/3 or B/C to 135th Street

New Steps Forward in Venezuela's Revolution

The Venezuelan people yesterday delivered a powerful 'yes' vote to amend their constitution changing term limits to public offices. The referendum result allows president Hugo Chavez to run for a third term.

The vote comes 3 months after the United Socialist Party of Venezuela won in a landslide in regional elections. The campaign drew millions of people into politics and showed the mass support for the Bolivarian revolution.

At the same time, the U.S. launched a defamation campaign trying to destroy the constitutional amendment. Using the right wing media they threatened to disregard the results of the public referendum. Come hear a presentation on the developing political battle in Venezuela.

Read more!

Day Laborers Robbed, Beaten and Shot with Impunity in New Orleans

The Times has an excellent story detailing the problems facing day laborers in New Orleans. Much like the case of Marcelo Lucero, posted earlier, who was murdered on Long Island, the day laborers who are doing much of the work of rebuilding New Orleans face the constant threat of robbery from armed gangs of men, mostly black, exacerbating tensions between Latinos and African Americans in the city.

NEW ORLEANS — They are the men still rebuilding New Orleans more than three years after Hurricane Katrina, the head-down laborers from Honduras, Mexico and Guatemala who work on the blazing hot roofs and inside the fetid homes for a wad of cash at the end of the day.

But on the street, these laborers are known as “walking A.T.M.’s.”

Their pockets stuffed with bills, the laborers are vulnerable because of language problems and their status as illegal immigrants. And as Hispanics have become the prey of choice in crumbling neighborhoods here in one of America’s most crime-ridden cities, racial friction between the newcomers and longtime black residents has moved close to the surface.

Geovanny Billado, a worker from Honduras, spoke of one incident in which “they waited to punch me,” and “one of them stabs me with a knife.” It was four against one, Mr. Billado said, and he lost the $350 he had earned; another time, it was seven against one.

“You don’t get a chance to say anything,” he said. “They just fall on top of you. It’s better to just give the money up front. If you don’t give it to them, they’ll beat you and take it anyway.”

It is an under-the-radar crime epidemic: unarmed Hispanic workers are regularly mugged, beaten, chased, stabbed or shot, the police and the workers themselves say. The ruined homes they sometimes squat in, doubling- or quadrupling-up at night, are broken into, and they have been made to lie face down while being robbed.

Read full article at

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Norman Finkelstein speaking at the University of Alberta on January 22, 2009

Norman Finkelstein recently spoke about the massacre in Gaza. Youtube video of the event and the Q&A following is available here.

Read more!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Call your Senator!

Here' some troubling news from some of the U.S. Senate offices in Washington D.C. Apparently there are a number of Senators who are thinking about voting against the economic stimulus legislation if there are higher education funding increases, such as the Pell Grant & Federal Work-Study programs in it.

Call your Senator today at 202-224-3121 and tell them that investments like the Pell Grant and other higher education provisions MUST be kept in the final economic stimulus.

Here is a sample script for making your phone call:

"Hi, my name is ________________ and I am a constituent of Senator ______________. I am calling today in coalition with students across the country and the United States Student Association to urge Senator _____________ to include increases to the Pell Grant and other higher education provisions in the economic Recovery legislation to be voted on this week. For families hit hardest by the economic downturn or workers who have lost jobs, a $500 increase in the Pell Grant maximum award may well make the difference between staying in college for the spring semester or putting college attendance on hold; or in choosing re-training in a new field over unemployment. It is critical that higher education be a major part of any economic stimulus legislation that Congress votes on and I am urging Senator_____________ to only vote for economic recovery that is good for students and working families. Thank you for your time."


Read more!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

NYTimes Editorial On Immigration

The New York Times publishes an excellent editorial, pointing out that anti-immigrant politics may be one of the primary new directions adopted by the Republican Party. It is posted in full below: 


The Nativists Are Restless

Published: January 31, 2009

The relentlessly harsh Republican campaign against immigrants has always hidden a streak of racialist extremism. Now after several high-water years, the Republican tide has gone out, leaving exposed the nativism of fringe right-wingers clinging to what they hope will be a wedge issue.

Last week at the National Press Club in Washington, a group seeking to speak for the future of the Republican Party declared that its November defeats in Congressional races stemmed not from having been too hard on foreigners, but too soft.

The group, the American Cause, released a report arguing that anti-immigration absolutism was still the solution for the party’s deep electoral woes, actual voting results notwithstanding. Rather than “pander to pro-amnesty Hispanics and swing voters,” as President Bush and Karl Rove once tried to do, the report’s author, Marcus Epstein, urged Republicans to double down on their efforts to run on schemes to seal the border and drive immigrants out.

This is nonsense, of course. For years Americans have rejected the cruelty of enforcement-only regimes and Latino-bashing, in opinion surveys and at the polls. In House and Senate races in 2008 and 2006, “anti- amnesty” hard-liners consistently lost to candidates who proposed comprehensive reform solutions. The wedge did not work for single-issue xenophobes like Lou Barletta, the mayor of Hazleton, Pa., or the former Arizona Congressman J. D. Hayworth. Nor did it help any of the Republican presidential candidates trying to defeat the party’s best-known voice of immigration moderation, John McCain, for the nomination.

Americans want immigration solved, and they realize that mass deportations will not do that. When you add the unprecedented engagement of growing numbers of Latino voters in 2008, it becomes clear that the nativist path is the path to permanent political irrelevance. Unless you can find a way to get rid of all the Latinos.

What was perhaps more notable than the report itself was the team that delivered it. It included Bay Buchanan, former adviser to Representative Tom Tancredo and sister of Pat, who founded the American Cause and wrote “State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America.” She was joined by James Pinkerton, an essayist and Fox News contributor who, as an aide to the first President Bush, took credit for the racist Willie Horton ads run against Michael Dukakis.

So far, so foul. But even more telling was the presence of Peter Brimelow, a former Forbes editor and founder of, an extremist anti-immigration Web site. It is named for Virginia Dare, the first white baby born in the English colonies, which tells you most of what you need to know. The site is worth a visit. There you can read Mr. Brimelow’s and Mr. Buchanan’s musings about racial dilution and the perils facing white people, and gems like this from Mr. Epstein:

“Diversity can be good in moderation — if what is being brought in is desirable. Most Americans don’t mind a little ethnic food, some Asian math whizzes, or a few Mariachi dancers — as long as these trends do not overwhelm the dominant culture.”

It is easy to mock white-supremacist views as pathetic and to assume that nativism in the age of Obama is on the way out. The country has, of course, made considerable progress since the days of Know-Nothings and the Klan. But racism has a nasty habit of never going away, no matter how much we may want it to, and thus the perpetual need for vigilance.

It is all around us. Much was made of the Republican mailing of the parody song “Barack the Magic Negro,” but the same notorious CD included “The Star Spanglish Banner,” a puerile bit of Latino-baiting. It is easily found on YouTube. Google the words “Bill O’Reilly” and “white, Christian male power structure” for another YouTube taste of the Fox News host assailing the immigration views of “the far left” (including The Times) as racially traitorous.

And it takes only a cursory look at a worsening economic climate and grim national mood to realize that history is always threatening to repeat itself. Last week on Long Island, the authorities in Suffolk County unsealed new indictments against a group of teenage boys accused in a murderous attack against an Ecuadorean immigrant, Marcelo Lucero. Since that crime last year, many more victims have come forward with stories of assaults in or near the same town, Patchogue. The police in that suburb seem to have made a habit of ignoring a long and escalating trail of attacks against immigrant men, until the hatred rose up and spilled over one night, fatally.

Read more!